The Life of St. George and the St. George Tartan



The life of St. George is shrouded in legend, but he was almost certainly born in the Holy Land. Converted to Christianity, he was imprisoned and tortured by Emperor Diocletian (245 – 313 AD)., and upon refusing to recant his faith he was eventually beheaded. The Emperor’s wife Alexandria was so impressed by his courage that she became a Christian and so too was put to death.

The best-known legend surrounding St. George is that of the dragon. According to this legend, a pagan town in what is now Libya was being terrorised by a fierce dragon. To placate the insatiable beast the locals began to sacrifice their own townspeople. Finally, the local Princess was to be sacrificed, but good St. George came along, slaughtered the dragon and rescued the fair Princess. At this, the townsfolk converted to Christianity.

In 1222 the Council of Oxford declared 23rd. April as his Feast Day, and he eventually became the Patron Saint of England sometime in the 14th Century. It is traditional for men to celebrate St. George’s Day by giving their ladies a red rose to honour the memory of St. George and the Princess he saved from the dragon.

The St. George tartan has been designed to incorporate those emblems which best represent England as a nation:

The RED Cross of St. George on its WHITE field, surrounded by the three lions passant which form the Arms of England, and set in BLUE symbolising its island nature and dominance of the High Seas, laced with Royal PURPLE representing 1000 years of enduring monarchic tradition.

Registered on the Scottish Tartans Register No. 3178.


The Wounded Warriors Project and the Spirit of Ukraine Tartan


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The Wounded Warriors Project is a US-based global non-profit organisation that cares for US military service veterans and their families.

International Tartan was asked to provide scarves in the Spirit of Ukraine tartan as a gift for WWP volunteers in Ukraine. The scarves themselves were made by volunteers and trainees at Re-tweed, a social enterprise based in Eyemouth in Berwickshire, which trains women in tailoring and hand-crafting skills.

Despite the short notice, the scarves were made and arrived in Ukraine in time for the handover ceremony. The images show General Gavrilov and the Ukrainian team at the presentation ceremony in the magnificent FC Dynamo Kiev Stadium

The team are coming to Scotland in June and will be wearing their scarves when they run in a fund-raising cross-country event.

International Tartans: uniting the world, one tartan at a time.

The Spirit of Kazakhstan Tartan


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There was a shock awaiting the Tartan Army when they arrived in Astana for the Kazakhstan v Scotland Euro Nations 2020 qualifier. They were greeted by Kazakhstan’s own Tartan Army in their very own Spirit of Kazakhstan tartan. Here’s a picture of the advance guard.

The colours of the Spirit of Kazakhstan tartan are taken from the colours and symbols in the national flag of Kazakhstan and blended together to create a unique and distinctive design.

BLUE symbolises peace and unity and the infinite sky.

GOLD represents the sun, the source of light and energy which was a symbol of progress and movement for nomads, and is also used to symbolise the eagle and national ornament of Kazakhstan.

Congratulations for the amazing victory, Kazakhstan.


Kazakhstan tartan

About The Spirit of Serbia Tartan and the work of Dr Elsie Maude Inglis


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For a century now we have honoured the sacrifice of the millions of men slaughtered or wounded on the battlefields of Europe and beyond in that ‘Great War’ to end all wars. Europe abounds with memorials and graveyards, yet little mention has been made of the role of women, and one woman in particular – Dr Elsie Maude Inglis.

A qualified doctor and surgeon, and prominent in the Suffragette Movement, she was determined to play a part in the First World War. This extraordinary woman didn’t take up arms or fight in the conventional sense, but took on and overcame the British Establishment for the right to mend and heal the casualties of war by founding the Scottish Women’s Hospital for Foreign Service

Told by the War Office to “… go home and sit still” she was invited by France to set up a battlefield hospital unit run entirely by women. The London Suffrage Society financed Inglis and eighty women to support Serbian soldiers fighting for the allies and during the First World War arranged fourteen such medical units to serve in France, Serbia, Corsica, Salonika, RomaniaRussia and Malta. One government official who saw the doctors and nurses working in Russia remarked that: “No wonder Scotland* is a great country if the women are like that.”

Although she died in Newcastle on her journey home to the city of her upbringing, ‘Her people brought her back to the city of her fathers…Over her hung the torn banners of Scotland’s history. On her coffin, as she lay looking to the east in high St Giles’, were placed the flags of Great Britain and Serbia.’ After the funeral service, the coffin was placed on a gun-carriage.

‘Across the Water of Leith the long procession wound its way. Within sight of the grave it was granted to her grateful brethren, the representatives of the Serbian nation, to carry her coffin, and lower it to the place where the mortal in her was to lie in its last rest.’

Arthur Balfour, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs commented on her death: “Elsie Inglis was a wonderful compound of enthusiasm, strength of purpose and kindliness. In the history of this World War, alike by what she did and by the heroism, driving power and the simplicity by which she did it, Elsie Inglis has earned an everlasting place of honour.”

One can only surmise as to the number of troops whose lives were saved by Inglis and her colleagues, and marvel at the number of their descendants alive today: thousands, perhaps tens of thousands.

Although Edinburgh was to honour her with the creation of the Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital in 1925 (with surplus funds arising from disbandment of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service, which she herself had formed)it was closed in 1988. There is the odd plaque in her name dotted throughout the city and even a short cul-de-sac – the Elsie Inglis Way – near the site of the former memorial hospital, but nothing substantive. In Serbia, they have street names, exhibitions, museums and even some new facilities named after, not just Elsie Inglis, but a number of the other women who served in the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. In 2015 Dr Inglis and five other female volunteers were honoured by appearing on commemorative Serbian stamps. Since there are more than 43 statues of men in Edinburgh city centre but only two statues of women – one of Queen Victoria and one of a female victim of apartheid – might now be the time for us to honour this truly remarkable woman in her native city. To this end, and to honour the links she created with Serbia, proceeds from the newly-designed SPIRIT of SERBIA tartan will go the trust established to fund a statue to Elsie Inglis. They will be shared with Hospices of Hope a charity that embodies Elsie Inglis’s selfless dedication to humanity.

Founded by Graham Perolls in 1991 Hospices of Hope has seen the organisation develop from very small beginnings into the leading hospice care organisation in South East Europe. Their latest project – the BELhospice in Belgrade – is now underway, and is the first purpose-built hospice in Serbia. One of the wards will be named after Dr Elsie Inglis.

spirit of serbia


The Spirit of Serbia tartan will be launched on International Women’s Day on 8th March.

For more information about Hospice of Hope go to

For more information on the life and work of Dr Elsie Inglis see: ‘Between the Lines: Letters and Diaries from Elsie Inglis’s Russian Unit’ by Audrey Fawcett Cahill published by The Pentland Press


The Spirit of UKRAINE Tartan


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Luhansk, or Lugansk in Ukraine, as it is known by its majority Russian-speaking population, was, in fact, established by Scots. “Brother Scots!” declares the “Luhansk is Scotland” campaign. “The time has come to blow the pipes and come out in favour of reunion with the motherland. God Save the Queen.”


A humorous manifesto, published by local newspaper V Gorode, sets out the case. “We all know that Luhansk and the Luhansk region owe their existence to the Scottish engineer Charles Gascoigne,” it says. “It was he who explored our seams of coal and ore and who laid the foundations for our glorious industrial land. The industrious nature of Scottish families formed the basis of the hardworking character of modern Luhansk people. We think of Luhansk as a true Scottish city.”


It was, in fact, a Scotsman, Charles Gascoigne – known locally as Karl Karlovich Gaskoin – who founded Luhansk in 1795 and ran it, as a factory settlement, till 1806. His statue still stands in the city’s centre. A shareholder of the famous Carron works in Falkirk, Gascoigne was one of a huge number of Scots entrepreneurs, engineers and other experts who served the then Russian empire in the 18th century. Many came from the Falkirk area. In Luhansk, they lived in a special colony on the new town’s main drag, called “English Street”.


As early as the eighteenth century Semen Desnytskyi, a Ukrainian economist and lawyer, studied at Glasgow University. A significant number of the Ukrainians who came to the UK as a result of the Second World War initially resided in Scotland, where they were employed mainly in agriculture.

ukraine tartan

The Spirit of Ukraine tartan takes its colours from the national flag of Ukraine and is registered on the Scottish Register of Tartans No 12125

The John Muir exhibition


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The work of internationally renowned Scottish photographer Ken Paterson was recognised in exhibitions on both sides of the USA this summer. ‘In the footsteps of John Muir’, organised by the American-Scottish Foundation and the US National Parks Service featured original images from Muir’s boyhood home in Dunbar, East Lothian and the eponymous John Muir Way across Scotland, along with iconic scenes from his spiritual home in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. The exhibitions were displayed in the Federal Hall in New York from 25th May to 25th July and in the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, California from 15th May until 15th October this year.

Now at last Ken is being recognised in his own country, and his exhibition will be staged in the Members Gallery of the Scottish Parliament in January.

john muir exhibiton

john muir exhibiton




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Thoughts on the death of John Muir, Christmas Eve, 1914


John Muir’s Earth

One of the most poignant of the stories that have emerged from the commemorations marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War is the one about German and British troops laying down their arms and emerging from their trenches to exchange greetings and share rations on the Western Front on Christmas Eve 1914. Some even say that a football match took place though the evidence is scant. If it did, what a pity it wasn’t a game played for two years each way. Football could then truly have justified its claim to be ‘the beautiful game’. The sad irony is that this spontaneous outburst of goodwill lasted for only a few hours and foresaw four years of senseless slaughter and destruction resulting in the deaths of tens of millions, leaving much of central Europe as a vast wasteland.

Against this background the peaceful death of one man some 6000 miles away seems relatively insignificant, but John Muir was no ordinary human being, for his legacy was the prevention of even more senseless destruction in the name of so-called ‘progress’. Although much of what he preached about the conservation of our natural heritage only came into being after his passing, nevertheless his influence is felt to this day. And we can be thankful for that.

It is said that ‘history teaches fools’ and ‘those who forget it (history) are doomed to repeat it’. And doomed we might have been if not for this eccentric genius and a remarkable three days spent by two men in the wilderness of North America.

John Muir was born in Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland in 1838 and emigrated with his family to the United States of America in 1848. Throughout his life he developed an ever-growing fondness wild places and wild creatures. Largely self-taught this son of East Lothian became a poet, philosopher, preacher, inventor and mountaineer, as well as an expert in the fields of botany and geology.

His journeys into the vast wilderness of 19th.Century America brought him to discover the oneness and order of the natural world in which ‘every rock, plant and animal is a golden thread in the infinite fabric of life, and from which no fibre can be pulled without spoiling the whole.’

‘When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with all the other stars, all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty. This show is eternal.

This extraordinary man, regarded today as the ‘Father of Conservation’, was truly ahead of his time. His passionate concern for the future of our planet, allied to a unique clarity of thought and expression, enabled him to influence the world’s most powerful men. His legacy in the form of America’s National Parks is there for all to see and enjoy. There is no actual record of their conversations, but perhaps by sprinkling a little Muir-esque imagination into what we do know, we can glean how they might have felt and corresponded.


Scenes from Yosemite – Photographs courtesy of Ken Paterson

The following postcard was written by John Muir to his wife Louisa at their family home in Martinez, California. Muir was spending two nights in the wilderness of Yosemite with President Teddy Roosevelt.

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It is generally understood that it was this ‘adventure’ that persuaded Roosevelt to introduce the concept of ‘National Parks’ in the USA.

The following postcard was written by President Roosevelt to John Muir a few weeks after he returned to Washington.

muir postcard

The John Muir tartan was created in 1998 by David McGill for the 150th anniversary of John Muir’s arrival in the United States and was launched at a reception in the San Francisco Bay area City of Pleasanton in 2002 when Muir’s grand-son accepted an inscribed tartan clock and the picture frame on behalf of the Muir family. It is registered on the Scottish Tartan Register No.2682

The colours in the John Muir Tartan were chosen to represent what Muir first saw, and invited us all to see, long before man walked on the moon: the earth spinning silently through infinite space.” The postcards to his wife Louisa, depicted above were distributed at the exhibition – “In the Footsteps of John Muir” –  by Scottish photographer Ken Paterson at Federal Hall in New York City in April 2013. Framed copies of Ken Paterson’s photographs are available and can be seen at The exhibition “In the Footsteps of John Muir” will be on display in the Scottish Parliament this January.

MEXICANA – the Spirit of Mexico tartan


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Typical of our fore-fathers penchant for travel and adventure is the tale of Thomas Blake.

During the Colonial era, the Spanish restricted the entrance of other Europeans into Mexico. However, some non-Spanish Europeans were present. In 1556, the English adventurer Robert Thomson encountered the Scotsman Tomás Blaque (Thomas Blake), who had been living in Mexico City for more than twenty years! Blaque is the first known Briton to have settled in what would become Mexico.

Although Senor Blake didn’t immediately start a one-man Caledonian Society, the Saint Andrew’s Society of Mexico was established in 1893 and thrives to this day.

mexico tarta

A number of these aficionados have asked for a tartan designed specifically for the people of Mexico and those of Mexican descent, hence Mexicana, the tartan of Mexico.

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The colours of the tartan are taken from the flag of Mexico and the tartan is officially registered on the Scottish Register of Tartans No. 11820.


The St. Andrew Tartan – a love story


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Taylor R. invited his girlfriend to travel with him from Devon to St Andrew’s for a very, very special occasion today. Both hailing from Northern Ireland, they had met and fallen in love with Scotland whilst studying at university, and Taylor decided that St Andrews on St Andrew’s Day would be the perfect place to pop the question.

To complete the circle and keep the secret until the last possible moment, International Tartans provided a drawstring bag in the St Andrew tartan to hold the ring. We can’t wait to find out if she said YES.

UPDATE: …she said Yes! Congratulations to you both 🙂